A Bowman County horse has died after contracting a confirmed case of EHM, an infectious and contagious respiratory and neurologic disease.
According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the barrel-racing horse became notably ill on April 19. The disease rapidly progressed, resulting in euthanization that same day. Lab tests April 20 confirmed the presence of Equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy, or EHM.
Horses that were exposed to the horse have been quarantined. Owners of other horses that may have had contact with the affected horse are being advised to consult with their local veterinarian, monitor their horses and restrict travel.
EHM is caused by equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) and, occasionally, equine herpesvirus-4 (EHV-4). EHV-1 is not uncommon and can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal death and, rarely, the neurologic form of the disease, EHM.
Vaccines are available for the respiratory and reproductive forms of EHV-1. They do not reliably prevent the neurologic form (EHM), but may offer some level of protection. Vaccinating horses after exposure is not recommended.
According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, EHV-1 can be spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands. Measures that can reduce the risk of spreading the disease include avoiding shared food or water containers and preventing nose-to-nose contact.
EHV-1 poses no threat to human health.
KX News is following this story as it develops and will have more throughout the day and on the afternoon and evening newscasts.